Hungry Like the Wolf – Endangered Wolf Center #133

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Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Looking back on my favorite parts of cake hunting, right up there with tons of incredible adventures is finding out about crazy awesome places in Missouri (and even Illinois) that I had no idea were so close (for the most part) and so wonderful. And so it probably goes without saying that the Endangered Wolf Center is one of those crazy awesome places that I’m so thankful I was able to find out about through cake hunting.

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                                                                             Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Background information time: In the 1960s and 70s Marlin Perkins was a TV personality who hosted “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” Along with his wife, Carol, Marlin turned his attention in the early 70s to helping the endangered wolf population and founded the Endangered Wolf Center on 63 acres of wooded land in Eureka, MO. Today the Center is still thriving and inviting the community to become educated about the plight of endangered wolves and what everyone can do to help out.

While all of this is super wonderful, the only sad thing about the Endangered Wolf Center, at least from a cake hunting perspective, is that the cake for this location was placed at the entrance to the Center which is barred from the rest of the actual wolf sanctuary by an electric fence that you can only go through with a pass and a reservation.

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                                                                                     Cake #133 at the Endangered Wolf Center

Understandably the center probably has it’s reasons for keeping security beefed up like this, but it was a little bit of a let down to come so far on our cake hunt only to be met with a sign for the Center and a fence but no actual wolves.

However, as we had already had a pretty prolific cake hunting day so far, Mercutio, Palmetto and I simply admired the cake, took our customary pictures with it and put our sadness behind us as we got ready for the last cake of the hunt, and our bellies reminded us that it had been a long time since lunch.

Highway to the Amusement Park Zone – Six Flags #132

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                                                                          Cake #132 at Six Flags

For this Cake Monster, there is nothing more reminiscent of childhood and early adolescence than summers and early falls spent at Six Flags. From getting a season pass from the Easter Bunny, to waiting until the first day the park opened, to doing my best to battle the summer humidity to look presentable for my season pass photo, so many summer memories started with Six Flags. And going to see Cake #132 at the entrance to the Park grounds with Palmetto and Mercutio somehow seemed to bring all of them back at once.

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                                                                          Cake #132 detail

Even though this Cake Monster wouldn’t be a patron until many years later, Six Flags St. Louis opened in 1971. In case you’re wondering, the six flags commemorated by the name of the theme park are the six nations that have governed the state of Texas (the birthplace of the theme park) including Spain, France, the Republic of Texas, Mexico, the United States and the Confederate States of America.

Six Flags St. Louis was one of the original three theme parks built and the only one of the three that still is around today.

Over the years the park has put new rides in (hello, Hurricane Harbor!) and taken old rides out, but the heart of the park has remained the same – and I still love me some Log Flume!

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                                                                 Palmetto, Cake Monster and Mercutio at Cake #132 

At the time of the cake hunt, the park was allowing cake hunters to access the Six Flags parking lot through a special lane used only for checking out the cake and moving along, so even without season passes, Mercutio, Palmetto and I were able to live a little bit of that summer life by spending time with the cake in front of the fountains that lead the way into the park.

 

 

As an interesting side note: once 2014 ended, the fates of the cakes were pretty uncertain. Some of the cakes remained at their locations while some were auctioned off to the highest bidder (usually a hardcore cake hunter who wanted a real piece of the action to add to their collection), and some, like the Six Flags cake, were refurbished and oftentimes given a new location.

The fate of the Six Flags cake fell into the last category as it was in need of a pretty much full scale repair by the time the year of the cake hunt was over. So it was re-imagined and repainted and given to none other than one of my favorite independent bookstores – the Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves! The interesting thing about this discovery was that the first time I stopped by the Novel Neighbor in 2015, I noticed the cake out front and took a picture because I thought I had never seen it before, but it was only when doing research on the Six Flags cake did I discover that the cake that stands outside my favorite place to go for local art and good books is none other than the Six Flags cake with a face lift! Small cake hunting world indeed! 🙂

Who Let the Dogs out? – Purina Farms #131

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IMG_2600Right, so when you think of Purina Farms, what probably comes to mind is a glorious sanctuary where all day long dogs run around obstacle courses and eat dog food and generally star in dog food commercials…..it’s not just me who has this fantasy, right?

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                                                                    Cake #131 at Purina Farms

Well regardless of the image you conjure in your own mind, this Cake Monster, (along with Mercutio Krispytreats and Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban, I’m sure), pictured our trip to Purina Farms to be, well, at least a little more filled with animals than it was on the day we visited. In fact, the day we were there, we didn’t even see many other people outside of another possible cake hunter or two – not gonna lie, eeriness on top of disappointment is the beginning of the recipe for disaster.

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                                                                 Cake #131 at Purina Farms

But let’s back up a little bit: Purina has a long history, stretching all the way back to 1894 when it was founded by William H Danforth. Back then it was called the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. The name changed in 1902 to Ralston Purina. In 1926 Purina Farms was founded to begin the process of testing both the nutrition level and taste-good-ness of the dog food the company was producing. Over the years Purina has continued to do research into the most nutritious and delicious food for all types of pets.

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                                                                      Cake #131 at Purina Farms

And now back to the story: so even though we didn’t get to check out any cool dog obstacle courses with dogs actually running on them, we did get to walk around the farm a bit and check out a few things without having to worry about dodging a crowd. Plus the cake for this location was especially cool and incorporated a pretty epic theme, so overall, I think we can count this adventure as a win – I will be back to see some dogs jumping over hurdles though!

 

The One in which Cake Monster Is Too Shaw-ked to Take a Souvenir – Shaw Nature Reserve #130

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IMG_2597After a rousing game of how close to a Ben Franklin mannequin is Cake Monster willing to get, Palmetto, Mercutio and I left the scene of the mannequin attack and headed to Gray Summit to check out Cake #130 at the Shaw Nature Reserve.

The Shaw Nature Reserve is actually an extension of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, which was founded in 1925. At the time, the Nature Reserve served as a plant life safe haven as there was a need to keep them away from the smoke pollution occurring at the time. Now the Reserve has become a place of not only natural beauty but educational value as well with numerous trails and areas to explore nature and a staff that’s equipped with all the natural knowledge you could ask for. The Reserve was even given the honor of being a National Environmental Education Landmark by the US Secretary of the Interior in 1972.

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                                                                                         Cake #130 at the Shaw Nature Reserve

As part of all this awesomeness, the Shaw Nature Reserve was given a super incredible cake with some very interesting details including little figurines of eagles and snakes and turtles which were oh so tempting to this Cake Monster who loves a good souvenir!

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                                                                                     Cake #130 at the Shaw Nature Reserve

 

 

 

 

I mean, look at that tiny turtle, how could you not want to take him home and keep him forever?

The temptation was real, but the sign near the cake, and the concern of both Palmetto and Mercutio, led me away from walking off with a new pocket turtle, which, in the end was

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                                                                                         Cake #130 at the Shaw Nature Reserve

probably the right thing to do (I guess). And now even though I don’t have a cute little bald eagle to take with me on my adventures, I do have the memory of trying to sneakily pry a super-glued-on snake from the bottom of the cake only to look up at the disapproving faces of Palmetto and Mercutio and quietly relinquishing my struggle in the spirit of solidarity with all the cake monsters that would come after me, and really it’s the thought that counts, I suppose.

 

Frankly, The Cake Hunting Mannequin Count Is Too Dang High! – Franklin County Courthouse #129

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Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse

I like to think that with cake hunting there were cake locations along the way that were super interesting and were places that I’d likely never visit if it wasn’t for the opportunity to see a cake. And then…there were cake locations that just made me scratch my head and cross them off the list never really to be thought of again. Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse falls into that second category.

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                                                                                           Cake #129 at the Franklin County Courthouse

Now don’t get me wrong, seeing a life size statue of Ben Franklin posed oh so sweetly on a park bench is fairly noteworthy, but other than that, the courthouse itself was unremarkable and not to mention closed when we arrived to see the cake.

Franklin County, if you couldn’t guess, was named for Benjamin Franklin and thus why his likeness sits outside the courthouse for all of eternity, just waiting to scare generations of cake hunters for the rest of time.

The county itself was founded in 1818 but the courthouse that now stands at the cake location was built in 1923 to replace the log cabin that had been used for the courthouse until then.

So, since none of the courthouse’s history seems all that different from the histories of other courthouses I’ve seen on the cake hunt, I’m assuming that the main reason for the cake placement was the statue, and despite my well documented fear of mannequins, Mercutio, Palmetto and I had a pretty good time taking some pictures with the statue version of Mr. Franklin – after lots of coaxing on their part to actually get me close to the mannequin long enough to take a picture with it.

My Bright Idea Goes Down in Flames – Meramec Caverns #128

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                                                                   Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

Maybe it was the long drive, maybe it was the fact that we were only 2 cakes into a rather long hunt, or maybe it was something else all together, but one of the most memorable things about the first time I saw Cake #128 was giving no thought to what I was saying and blurting out, “But why does this cake have flames on the bottom?” To which Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban immediately responded, “Um, I’m pretty sure those are stalactites and stalagmites,” and Mercutio Krispytreats laughed uncontrollably.  Let’s be real though, those stalagmites at the bottom look A LOT like flames on first glance…right?? It’s also entirely possible that I had lost my mind at this point…but let’s not dwell on that possibility 😉

Fun Cake Fact: Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns happened to be the most southern as well as the western-most cake, located the farthest from downtown St. Louis. *End Fun Cake Fact*

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Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

FB_IMG_1495062256916I’ve been to Meramec Caverns a few times over the years with family and friends since it’s not terribly far from where I grew up, but I was excited to explore at least part of the caverns with Mercutio and Palmetto, who had never been there before.

Quick history lesson: In 1720 Philipp Renault, a French dude, was taken on a excursion to the area that would become Meramec Caverns by an Osage Native American guide. At the entrance he was led to, he discovered a wealth of saltpeter which was used in gunpowder at the time. This discovery was both a blessing and a curse as it proved to be a profitable enterprise until the Civil War when Confederate troops destroyed a Union gunpowder stronghold inside the caves. As the years went on, the caves became a popular spot for locals to go dancing as there was a large naturally formed room in the caverns that was perfect for dancing especially in the hot summer months as the caverns are naturally cool year round. In 1933, Meramec Caverns was purchased by Lester Dill who turned the area into a tourist hot spot by promoting tours of the caves. Dill is credited with exploring much of the caverns and discovering such notable areas as where Jesse James and his gang supposedly hid out when they were on the run! Pretty sweet discovery! *End Quick history lesson*

Currently Meramec Caverns is the largest cave west of the Mississippi but, in my opinion, the most fun – you can take tours of the caves, zip line through different parts of the property and even camp there if you like.

We did not take a tour at the time of our cake hunt, but we did have fun exploring the open part of the cave that comes complete with fun house type mirrors which Mercutio and Palmetto particularly enjoyed.

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                                                                           Cake #128 at Meramec Caverns

Plus as we were walking back to the car, on our way to the next cake of the hunt, Palmetto and I began an impromptu tradition that would continue even into the years after the cake hunt – thinking of random song lyrics and singing them to each other thus creating a whole new mashed up song with roots in all different genres. It may not sound super exciting, but to us, it’s wonderful. And so to choruses of Purple Raiiiin and Americaaa, Mercutio, Palmetto and I left the caverns for the next part of our adventure!

 

The One in which We Generally Head in the Right Direction – Head’s General Store #127

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                                                                  Cake #127 at Head’s General Store 

Sooo West County’s a big place and despite my seeming confidence in where I was geographically and where we needed to go to see the rest of the cakes on our hunt, I was pretty lost as soon as we started traveling through St. Albans, and we lost cell phone service. In case you’ve never heard of St. Albans before this post, which I hadn’t before the hunt, it is this cute little unincorporated part of Franklin County that includes a school, golf course and apparently pretty weak cell phone towers. But through sheer will power and stubborn determination, we powered through the cell phone dead zone and drove this way and that until we found what we had been looking for: Head’s General Store and Cake #127.

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                                                                           Cake #127 at Head’s General Store 

While it may not look like much due the repairs happening at the time, Head’s General Store is on the National Register of Historic Places and has in been in continuous operation since 1892. Originally called St. Albans General Store, it was renamed after longtime owner Mae Pfeiffer Head to commemorate her family purchasing the store in 1915.

The area around St. Albans itself is pretty notable in that in 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed through it, and apparently, according to legend, our good friend Meriwether Lewis slipped and almost fell from a cliff 300 feet above the caves that members of the expedition were exploring. Lewis was only saved by – get this – thinking on his feet and digging his sweet knife into the ground to stop his fall. Are. You. Kidding. Me? Such a hardcore awesome move there, dude!

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                                                 Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban, Cake Monster and Mercutio Krispytreats 

On our trip to see the cake, Mercutio, Palmetto and I did not encounter any caves or dangerous cliffs into which we could dig our knives to save ourselves from falling, but we did get to see a little more of the St. Albans area thanks to some unplanned detours as well as admire a pretty sweet coffee cup filled cake which still ranks up there as one of my most favorite cake designs.

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Palmetto Joseph Ray-Ban and Cake #127